Saturday 12 February 2011

Château La Grave, Badens

I visit Château La Grave maybe 3 or 4 times a year and have learnt from experience that it is better to be overdressed. I'm not talking about formal dress - this is a working wine domaine after all - but rather that it is significantly cooler than at home, a mere 30 km away, and even in summer I have felt the chill of a fresh breeze blowing across the Les Balcons de l'Aude. This cooler microclimate is the main reason why this domaine is particularly successful with white wines, although the range includes red wines, rosés and a Cartagène.

It is a sizeable property, around 100 hectares in all, spread over the hills around Badens, between Trebes and Marseillette and just a few kilometres from the famous Cité of Carcassonne. It is owned by the Orosquette family (pictured above), who run the domaine with the help of a closely knit, young team, headed by the capable and very professional Jean-Francois Orosquette. The wines are consistently good and well made. And fairly priced. They have been successful in export markets, available now in 15 countries.

Wines tasted were mostly the 2010 vintage, the whites bottled just before Christmas and the red 2010 in January. Prices are per bottle, cellar door. I sell some of these wines in the UK so there is a commercial interest here.

Vin de Pays des Hauts de Badens, 2010
An easy drinking blend of Listan (aka Palomino, the grape that makes Sherry), Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chasan, a cross between Chardonnay and Listan.
Attractive green fruit nose, slight gooseberry, citrus flavours with fresh acidity. Good balance, medium length. Very good value. 3,90€

Expression Blanc, AOC Minervois, 2010
Their entry level Minervois white was particularly successful in 2010. Based on Maccabeo with some Vermentino and Marsanne, this has citrus, nutty aromas and a sprightly lemon, nutty palate. Quite elegant and understated. 6,20€

Privilège Blanc, AOC Minervois, 2008
This is their top white wine which they only make it the quality merits it. A blend of Maccabeo and Grenache which is fermented and aged in oak. I was told this was really too young but it seemed just right to me.
Nutty, oaky nose followed by smooth creamy palate. There is oak here but there is an elegance and delicacy to the palate which prevents it being over oaked. Very good, even at this price. 10€

Expression Rosé, AOC Minervois, 2010
Paler than in previous year, this is delicately pink and pretty. Bit closed (very cold) but some attractive red, herby fruits there and good mid palate richness. 6€

Tristan et Julien Rouge, 2010
50/50 Syrah Grenache, this is only just bottled and is brimming with youthful summer fruit flavours. Lots of lovely juicy fruit. This is delicious and easy to drink. Look forward to summer and enjoy slightly chilled with a picnic. 6€

Expression Rouge, AOC Minervois , 2008
50% Syrah with Grenache and Carignan, unoaked. This is drinking beautifully now. Mid-weight Minervois with soft, brambley, spicy fruit balanced by fine tannins. €6

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